Energy Voice | Unlit flare created explosion risk on North Sea platform

An unlit flare on a North Sea platform exposed workers to an explosion risk, a new report said.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the flare was not lit during normal operations on EnQuest’s Heather Alpha installation on March 1.

HSE said flammable gas from the west boom of the flare built up on the platform, located east of Shetland.

An emergency shutdown and was initiated after the presence of the gas was initially registered by three gas detectors. More gas was then released and was picked up by a fourth detector.

The HSE inspector said workers were exposed to a “risk of fire and explosion”.

Operator EnQuest was accused of not taking sufficient measures to prevent fire and explosion.

The company has been given until September 28 to comply with HSE’s improvement notice.

An EnQuest spokeswoman said: “EnQuest can confirm there was a gas release on its Heather platform on 1 March 2018. During routine operations, the flare extinguished which resulted in a limited amount of gas accumulating, externally, around the north face of the platform.

“The safety systems activated automatically, as designed, and production was shut down immediately. The safety of our people remains our first priority and we have taken steps to prevent re-occurrence.

“We are working closely with the HSE to learn from the incident and are on target to comply with the terms of the Notice.”

HSE said last month that oil companies had come “perilously close to disaster” on a number of occasions and urged them to do more to tackle the problem.

Heather has been in production since 1978.

The platform takes in hydrocarbons from the Heather and Broom fields via subsea tieback.

The processed oil is exported to the Sullom Voe Terminal via the Ninian Central platform, while the gas is routed through compression trains for lift gas purpose.

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